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THE NATIONAL PARKS AND NATURE RESERVES OF SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka is one of the smallest, but biologically diverse countries in Asia. Indeed, the country is listed by Conservation International as one of the world’s 34 official “Biodiversity Hotspots”. In addition, The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest, is the seventh UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sri Lanka’s high proportion of endemic species is remarkable. Take land crabs: all 51 species are endemic.Influenced by Buddhist respect for all living beings, Sri Lanka has a well-entrenched conservation ethic. Indeed, Udawattakelle Sanctuary in Kandy is probably the world’s oldest wilderness protected area. There are 12 National Parks and 52 Sanctuaries, which together account for 13% of Sri Lanka’s land area.A national park safari offers the chance to see some of Sri Lanka’s 92 mammals (16 endemic) - elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted deer, mouse- and barking-deer, porcupine, ant-eater, civet cat, giant squirrel, and monkeys such as the macaque, purple-faced leaf monkey and grey langur.Yala National Park is believed to have the world’s highest concentration of leopards. Uda Walawe National Park is famous for its elephants, but Minneriya National Park boasts the awesome dry season “Gathering”, in which herds of elephants congregate to drink the region’s remaining water. Yala (Ruhuna) National Park: Yala National Park with an area of 1259 sq km is the biggest National Park in Sri Lanka. The Park is located 309 km south of Colombo on the southeast of the island and is divided into Yala West (also called Ruhuna) and Yala East. Yala West or Ruhuna National Park is one of the best parks in the world to observe and photograph leopards. There are about 35 leopards in the park, which probably is the highest density anywhere in the world. Other animals that can be seen in the park are elephants, sloth bear, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, toque monkey, mongoose and crocodiles. Yala East contains a large variety of water birds. Gal Oya National Park: Gal Oya National Park is located 314 km away from Colombo in the Inginiyagala district. The Park has an area 260 sq km and is surrounded by the largest tank in Sri Lanka, which is the Senanayake Samudra. The park is renowned for its elephant population. There are about 150 elephants in the park. The best time visit the park is between March and July.Uda Walawe National Park: Situated 170 km southeast of Colombo, the Uda Walawe National Park lies within the Ratnapura and Monaragala districts. It is largely inhabited by elephants, spotted deer, sambhur, water buffaloes, mongoose, bandicoots, foxes, water monitor lizards, crocodiles, wild boars, toque monkeys, grey langur, leopards and various varieties of snakes.Wasgamuwa National Park: Situated approximately 200 km away from Colombo, the Wasgamuwa National Park lies within the Polonnaruwa and Matale Districts and has the Mahaweli River and Amban River as its eastern and western boundaries. The wildlife includes elephants, wild buffaloes, spotted deer, leopards, sloth bears, water monitors and crocodiles.Horton Plains National Park: The Horton Plains National Park is situated some 200 km away from Colombo, amidst hills in the Nuwara Eliya district. The most amazing feature of the park is the `World's End' where the southern part of the plains comes to a sudden end and drops almost straight down for 700 m. The park contains a rich variety of birds and animals.

Protected Area Management type
Anaolandewa (National MAB Reserve) proposed
Anuradhapura Sanctuary
Bar Reef Marine Sanctuary
Bellanwila-Attidiya Sanctuary
Bundala National Park
Chundikulam Sanctuary
Flood Plains National Park
Gal Oya Valley National Park
Gal Oya Valley North-East Sanctuary
Gal Oya Valley South-West Sanctuary
Giant's Tank Sanctuary
Great Sober Island Sanctuary
Hakgala Strict Natural Reserve
Hikkaduwa Nature Reserve
Horton Plains National Park
Hurulu Forest Reserve
Kahalla-Pallekele Sanctuary
Kalametiya Kalapuwa Sanctuary
Katagamuwa Sanctuary
Kataragama Sanctuary
Knuckles Cloud Forest Site
Kokilai Lagoon Sanctuary
Kudumbigala Sanctuary
Lahugala Kitulana National Park
Madhu Road Sanctuary
Maduru Oya Block 1 National Park
Mahakandara Wewa Sanctuary
Mihintale Sanctuary
Minneriya-Giritale Sanctuary
Minneriya-Giritale Block 1 Nature Reserve
Nelugala Jungle Corridor
Nuwaragala (National MAB Reserve) Forest Reserve
Padaviya Tank Sanctuary
Peak Wilderness Sanctuary
Pidurutalagala (National MAB Reserve) proposed Forest Reserve
Polonnaruwa Sanctuary
Ritigala Strict Natural Reserve
Ruhuna Block 1 National Park
Sagamam Sanctuary
Senanayake Samudra Sanctuary
Seruwila-Allai Sanctuary
Sigiriya Sanctuary
Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area
Somawathiya Block 1 National Park
Sri Jayewardenepura Bird Sanctuary
Telwatte Sanctuary
Trikonamadu Nature Reserve
Trincomalee Naval Headworks Sanctuary
Uda Walawe National Park
Vavunikulam Sanctuary
Victoria-Randenigala-Rantambe Sanctuary
Wasgomuwa Lot 1 National Park
Wilpattu Block 1 National Park
Wilpattu North Sanctuary
Wirawila-Tissa Sanctuary
Yala Strict Natural Reserve
Yala East Block 1 National Park

© Lankaeuro Group 2009